Venee Tubman, MD, MMSc

2015 DICP Faculty Fellowship Recipient

VENEE TUBMAN, MD, MMSc, Instructor, Harvard Medical School; Clinical Staff, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Boston Children’s Hospital

Mentor: Matthew M. Heeney, MD, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical SchoolClinical Director, Pediatric Blood Disorders Center; Director, Sickle Cell Program; Associate Chief, Hematology, Boston Children’s Hospital

Division Chief:  David A. Williams, MD, Leland Fikes Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Boston Children’s Hospital; Director of Translational Research, Boston Children's Hospital; Associate Chairman, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Project Title: The Impact of Increased Provider Knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease on Caregiver Perceptions of Disease in a Low-Income Country”

Project Description:

Over 240,000 infants are born with sickle cell disease (SCD) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) annually. While survival to age 5 years is 95% for children with SCD in high-income nations, in low-/middle-income countries (LMIC) in SSA survival to age 5 is 10-50%. Early diagnosis through newborn screening (NBS), preventive care, parental education and long-term follow-up decrease mortality.

NBS programs worldwide include screening and follow-up in hospital settings.  In 2012, I partnered with local clinicians to pilot NBS for SCD at a large public referral hospital in Liberia. After 18 months of screening, we had diagnosed SCD in 45 infants and 80% of those began penicillin and parental education.  However, at 18 months, we discovered that 76% of our patients over age 9 months had not been seen in more than 6 months. Retention in care for pediatric patients diagnosed with a chronic disease is a known challenge in LMICs. 

Whereas many people in LMICs have limited access to hospitals, increasing local provider knowledge of SCD could have important implications for the health of SCD patients. This study will build upon my Liberia experience to investigate the impact of enhanced community resources for children with SCD. In Tanzania, where a robust clinical program exists and NBS will begin year, we will investigate the impact of an educational intervention on provider SCD knowledge and on caregiver perceptions of SCD. We will test the hypothesis that an educational intervention for SCD targeting local providers can impact caregiver perceptions of disease and patient outcomes.

Biography:

Dr. Venée Tubman is a Pediatric Hematologist / Oncologist at the Dana-Farber / Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center (DF/BC) and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. Dr. Tubman attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, then migrated north for pediatrics residency with the Boston Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, followed by fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology / Oncology at DF/BC.  Dr. Tubman’s clinical and research efforts are focused on understanding modifiers of outcomes for patients with hemoglobinopathies (e.g. sickle cell disease, thalassemia), understanding interactions between sickle cell disease and malaria, and in global health program development. In addition to her work locally with patients with hemoglobinopathies, Dr. Tubman has been a consultant at John F. Kennedy Medical Center, the national referral hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, since 2008.  Her efforts abroad have supported improving the care of children and newborns, and medical education.  In Spring 2010, Dr. Tubman collaborated with local practitioners and international partners to initiate the Chronic Care Clinic, a preventative care program designed to care for children with chronic illnesses including sickle cell disease (SCD).  In August 2012, under her guidance, a pilot program was launched to begin to explore SCD in Liberia. As this successful pilot is complete, the steps for expansion of the HEAR SCD Liberia Initiative (Health Care, Education, Advocacy/Awareness, and Research) are underway. Dr. Tubman is dedicated to expanding diversity among physicians in Boston.  Her efforts in community building and mentoring were celebrated with the 2015 Boston Children’s Hospital Black Achiever Award.